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This article was published on September 9, 2019

Nintendo files patent for bendy Joy-Con (pray they don’t drift)

Nintendo files patent for bendy Joy-Con (pray they don’t drift)

Nintendo recently filed a patent for Joy-Con that can bend, meaning the Switch’s troublesome little sticks might finally become a little more flexible — though that’s probably not the improvement Joy-Con drift sufferers were hoping for.

The patent, spotted by LetsGoDigital, shows Joy-Con with a hinge just under where your thumb would naturally sit that allows the device to bend backwards. They work both attached to the Switch and detached, according to the patent. Nintendo filed a similar patent in Japan last year.

Credit: Nintendo

They don’t necessarily look like something Nintendo would sell as standard equipment on Switches — they might make it hard to fit the handheld in the dock. But I can definitely see them being a niche product for users who need a more ergonomic controller than the conventional Joy-Con — perhaps someone with arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Honestly, I’m for it. One of the problems I’ve always had with certain Nintendo controllers — SNES, Wii, Wii U, and Switch — is that aren’t apparently designed with hand comfort in mind. Whatever praises you can sing about the 3DS, for example, it wasn’t exactly designed to fit snugly in a pair of palms. I’m still young and nimble, and even my fingers occasionally get numb using conventional Joy-Cons.

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But beyond the applications on ergonomics, there’s another potential benefit: namely, that rubber ring thing Nintendo teased last week. This ring is apparently designed to bend pretty far to allow users to work out their fitness needs. I do wonder if something with a little more give than the conventional Joy-Con would work better with this device. We’ll know more once Nintendo finally lets us in on the secret later this week.

All that being said, Nintendo still has bigger problems with the Joy-Con than its inflexibility. It’s still facing a class action lawsuit over the issue of Joy-Con drift, which plagues a large swath of Nintendo Switch players. No one’s been able to definitively point to a reason for the drifting controllers’ apparent degradation, but the general consensus (and the backbone of the lawsuit) is a manufacturing defect Nintendo either failed to notice or correct.

This has been a particularly sharp sticking point after the reveal of the Switch Lite. This smaller, more portable version of the Switch does not have detachable Joy-Con. This means, if you have a problem with drift, you can’t simply get a new pair as you can with the original model.

And if it really was a problem with one of the controller’s many moving parts that caused this, I don’t like the odds that a more fragile or complex version, such as the one shown in this patent, will last much longer. Whether these bendy Joy-Con ever see the light of day, let’s just hope they don’t have the same problem with drift as their rigid counterparts.

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